Salford families are being asked to give generously to a shoebox appeal for children in Eastern Europe who might otherwise go without presents at Christmas.

Salford University professor, Penny Cook is leading the campaign locally on behalf of international relief charity Teams4U, which operates around the world to provide support to disadvantaged children and families.

The shoeboxes are distributed across Eastern Europe and aim to bring joy, happiness and love to vulnerable children, who are living in poverty.

In 2018, Teams4U delivered over 51,315 Christmas boxes across Romania, Bosnia and Belarus.

Penny Cook, 48, a professor in public health at the University of Salford, said: “Salford University has had a relationship with the charity for a number of years.”

Professor Cook, who has been involved in Teams4U for approximately four years, has been collecting shoeboxes this year from the University of Salford.

Shoeboxes have been donated from several departments, including public health and psychology.

Professor Cook said: “I’ve got five shoeboxes myself that I’ve made at home… although I find the wrapping really difficult, I just love filling the shoeboxes.

“I think the shoeboxes are just the most satisfying presents that you buy, you can kind of contribute in a small way to this big effort.”

The shoeboxes can be filled with a range of both practical and luxury gifts.

The University professor had not publicised the shoebox appeal this year as much as she would of liked, but hoped that next year the project would do better.

Professor Cook delivered the shoeboxes, prepared by the University, to the Teams4U warehouse in Wrexham, Wales.

Dave Cooke, who received an honorary doctorate from the University of Salford in 2017, organises multiple trips when delivering the shoeboxes, pre and post-Christmas.

The difficulties of obtaining interest from individuals for the shoebox appeals was acknowledged by Professor Cook.

She said: “I think maybe a lot of people might have been put off by the school shoebox appeal and you’re more or less forced to do it at school.

“I think the shoeboxes are just the most satisfying presents that you buy.” – Penny Cook

Professor Cook recalled heart-warming stories about how a child particularly needed a certain item, which the shoebox provided. As well as children who went through all the contents of their box but then hid it under their bed, as the items were too precious to use.

The charity, which was established in 2006, continues to help vulnerable communities through other projects including their support in healthcare.

A group of psychology students from the University of Salford were fortunate enough to visit Uganda last year, with Professor Cooke.

Salford student fundraising for Uganda trip

She explained: “We were doing interventions with the school around the reproductive health of the girls such as period poverty.”

Professor Cook is keen for the University of Salford to increase their Teams4U shoebox donations.

She said: “Potentially, I wouldn’t see why the University couldn’t be a drop off point in the future, but I can’t say that without asking someone’s permission.”

There are also alternative ways to contribute to the Teams4U Christmas shoebox appeal. If you donate £15, Teams4U will pack a shoebox full of gifts on your behalf and send it to a child who needs your love this Christmas.

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